The Feeling Good Therapist - The Five Secrets Technique (Part 2)

The Five Secrets Technique (Part 2) with host, Richard Lam, LMFT, featuring Jennelle Ordillo, LMFT

*This Technique was developed by Dr. David Burns, American Psychiatrist and Adjunct Clinical Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

In this Feeling Good Therapist video, Jennelle Ordillo explores the second part of the Five Secrets of Communication, a skill set developed by Dr. David Burns. The focus is on I Feel Statements, Stroking, and Inquiry. Richard, role-playing a husband in conflict with his wife, engages in a practice dialogue. Jennelle guides him through expressing feelings, appreciating positive qualities (stroking), and using gentle probing questions (inquiry). Richard seamlessly combines these elements by expressing regret for not contributing to housework, appreciating his wife's dedication to family and clean home, and inquiring about her feelings. Jennelle provides insightful feedback, emphasizing the flexibility to use these techniques based on the situation. The Five Secrets offers a powerful toolkit for effective communication and conflict resolution, enhancing both personal and professional relationships. Subscribe for more skills and tools to enrich your therapeutic practice and everyday life.


Richard: Welcome, everyone, to the Feeling Good Therapist, where we learn different skills and tools for your therapy practice or even in your personal lives. Today, we have Jennelle Oridllo joining us again for another round of the Five Secrets of Communication, a skill created by Dr. David Burns. Jennelle, tell us a little bit more about what we'll be doing today.

Jennelle: Perfect, thank you for having me again, Richard. This week, we are going to be learning about the second part of the Five Secrets. Last time, we learned about the disarm technique and thought and feeling empathy. This week, we're going to be talking about and learning about "I feel" statements, stroking, and inquiry. Are you ready to get into it?

Richard: Great. Should I be playing the same role?

Jennelle: Yes, you are going to be playing the same role as a husband who just got into an argument with his wife. She approached you about not helping around the house. The first segment we're going to learn about is "I feel" statements.

Richard: Let's do it.

Jennelle: All right, Richard, thanks for meeting me again. I know you're struggling with this argument and conflict with your wife about not helping around the house. We're going to learn about the rest of the Five Secrets of effective communication and different strategies for responding to her in conflict. Are you ready?

Richard: Yeah, I'm ready.

Jennelle: Let's go. The first part we are going to learn about is the "I feel" statement. An "I feel" statement is literally what it sounds like – you convey how you feel to your wife, using an actual emotional word. For example, "I feel sad," "I feel frustrated." This helps you be assertive and show her how you feel, enhancing her understanding. Do you have an example of how you can use an "I feel" statement?

Richard: When I think about it, I do feel bad that she's doing so much, and I'm not doing as much as I could to help around the house. So maybe I can say something like, "I feel bad and guilty that I haven't been doing more to help you around the house."

Jennelle: Beautiful, that was a perfect "I feel" statement. The next segment is stroking, conveying what you appreciate about your wife and the positive qualities she brings to the relationship. Acknowledging these qualities helps deepen your connection. What are some good things you appreciate about her, and how could you incorporate a stroking statement?

Richard: I know she's upset because she cares a lot about family and having a clean home. One thing I appreciate about her is that she values family and a clean home. So maybe I can say something like, "One thing I just love so much about you is that you prioritize family and having a clean home for us."

Jennelle: That's awesome. The last part is inquiry, a gentle probing question to understand her thoughts and feelings better. This allows for a deeper connection. How do you think you can incorporate inquiry in your response to her?

Richard: I guess I can just ask her how she's feeling or what she's thinking. So maybe something like, "Can you tell me a little bit more about how you're feeling?"

Jennelle: Yes, beautiful. All of those examples were great. Now, string them all together.

Richard: I start with my "I feel" statement: "I feel bad that I haven't been doing a good job helping around the house. And I just love you so much because you prioritize family and care about us having a clean home. I'm wondering if you can share a little bit more about how you're feeling so I can understand a little bit more."

Jennelle: Seamless, that was beautiful. You used an "I feel" statement at the beginning, followed by a stroking statement expressing your love for her and acknowledging her priorities. Finally, you asked about her feelings, creating a well-rounded response. Now that we've learned all five secrets, you can incorporate these into your responses during conflicts, using them in any order that feels appropriate. Great job, Richard.

Richard: If you want to learn more about Jennelle, check out her information below. For additional skills and tools, subscribe to this channel. Thank you again, Jennelle, and we'll see everyone next time. Bye.

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